Pharma stock under focus: Vir Biotechnology Inc (NASDAQ: VIR)

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Vir Biotechnology Inc (NASDAQ: VIR) stock surged 24.19% on January 27th, 2020 (Source: Google finance) but again fell over 13.7% on 28th January, 2020 (as of  9:55 am GMT-5; Source: Google finance) after the company  said is testing “whether its previously identified anti-coronavirus monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) bind and neutralize 2019-nCoV, also referred to as ‘Wuhan coronavirus’”. The stock is reacting as fears of a global coronavirus outbreak increased. Some of the mAbs are able to help neutralize other strains of coronaviruses, which led Vir to believe that they “may have the potential to treat and prevent Wuhan coronavirus”. Further, the company’s team of scientists also intends to apply “whole genome CRISPR-based screening capabilities”. This is for the identification of the host receptor that allows the infection, in the hopes that it will able to treat the rapidly emerging public health concern. The company knows that what is the danger of this pathogen and are therefore using their technologies to determine whether the company currently have, or can identify, therapies to neutralize this virus. The Wuhan coronavirus had killed 81, and infected more than 2,800 people in China, other countries in Asia, the US, Canada, France, and Australia.

On the other hand, the company in October, had raised $142.9 million in gross proceeds from an initial public offering. At the end of September, 2019, Vir had generated approximately $320.2 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments. The company has reported the net loss for the quarter ended September 30, 2019 of $48.3 million, compared to a net loss of $33.5 million, for the same period in 2018.

Meanwhile, VIR-2218, which is a hepatitis B virus (HBV)-targeting small interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNA)are being developed for the functional cure of HBV. The company has already completed Phase 1/2 dosing of all patient cohorts receiving 50 – 200 mg. The data continue to be consistent with those previously shown and the company continues to expect additional data for this trial to be available in the first half of 2020.

Moreover, VIR-2482, which is a monoclonal antibody being developed as universal prophylaxis for influenza A, is in an ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial. On basis of a positive review by the trial’s safety review committee of the available safety data for the 300 mg and 1200 mg cohorts, dosing in the 1800 mg cohort was initiated. The company expects the data from the first flu season of the Phase 1/2 clinical trial to be available in the second half of 2020 and from the second flu season of this trial to be available in the first half of 2021.

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